Arctic Watch: Home of Real Life Arctic Explorers

January 28, 2016

When you visit Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, you become part of a three generation dynasty of arctic explorers unlike any other in Canadian history. 

Richard WeberArctic Watch founder and host Richard Weber, recently awarded the Order of Canada, is the son of Hans Weber, a member of some of the earliest modern scientific expeditions to the Arctic. Hans Weber is credited with many of the first summits of arctic mountains, and for his work surveying submerged mountain chains on the Arctic Ocean floor, which influenced Canada’s current territorial claims in the region.

Sharing his father’s love of the North, Richard has been to the North Pole seven times since 1986, and in 1995 was part of a two-man team that was the first unsupported expedition to reach the Pole.

Richard’s wife, Josée Auclair, has led multiple trailblazing treks to the North and South Poles, earning several accolades and awards along the way. And their sons Nansen, an award-winning wildlife photographer, and Tessum, one of the foremost arctic guides in the world, enhance this roster of arctic explorers.   

With this level of experience leading the way, how could a visit to Arctic Watch be anything other than an amazing adventure?

 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge - Photo credit: Liang Jiangchuan
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge - Photo credit: Liang Jiangchuan

An Immersive Arctic Holiday

“I guess what drew me to the Arctic originally was the exploration,” Richard says. “There's not a lot of people, there's not a lot going on, and you can find yourself in true wilderness, so I think that's what we really liked. And Arctic Watch is still like that. It's a little piece of comfort in the middle of the wilderness. It's a very cool spot." 

Musk Ox at Arctic Watch. Photo credit: Thomas Schafenacker
Musk Ox at Arctic Watch. Photo credit: Thomas Schafenacker

It was a great place for Nansen and Tessum to grow up.  

“Well, our summers were not soccer camp or going to the grandparents’ on the weekend,” Tessum says. “It was sneaking up on musk ox and polar bears and sea kayaking down the Cunningham River, out exploring the Northwest Passage, jumping ice floes. It was amazing.”

 

Best of the Arctic Tour 

Guests of Arctic Watch share in all these experiences, which Tessum describes as a ‘best of the Arctic’ tour for people who want to explore wilderness, see wildlife and immerse themselves in the history of the region.

Belugas at Cunningham Inlet. Photo credit: Liang Jiangchuan
Belugas at Cunningham Inlet. Photo credit: Liang Jiangchuan

The Cunningham Inlet Beluga Whale nursery is one of the most spectacular sights during an Arctic Watch stay. Each summer as many as 2,000 whales enter the Inlet to have their young, and stay for up to six weeks. You will have the opportunity during your stay to sea kayak into the Inlet and observe the whales first hand.

After a sumptuous shore lunch in sight of the whales, visitors can hike to explore a nearby canyon, which provides a stunning view of the Northwest Passage. A polar bear sighting is always a possibility. But there’s more than wildlife to explore and the tundra offers many opportunities to explore the past.

“An hour’s hike from the lodge there's a Thule campsite that's a 1,000 years old and it has a fire bow made of a musk ox antler and two copper rivets from Viking contact. You have barrel staves from the caches European explorers used to leave,” says Tessum. 

Beechey Island. Photo credit: Acacia Johnson.
Beechey Island. Photo credit: Acacia Johnson.

The Franklin Expedition is one of the most tragic and enduring stories of the search for the Northwest Passage. Plenty of evidence exists of the many attempts to find the northern trade route. “You can visit Beechey Island and the graves are there, the remains of the house, the remains of the boat. It will weather away eventually, but there's still a lot of stuff around,” Richard explains. 

 

A Snapshot of Arctic Life

The love of the Arctic resonates in conversation with the Webers. More than just adventure guides, they are passionate advocates for the vast landscape they’ve devoted their lives to. 

"Guests are exploring with a family that has grown up in the Arctic, lives and breathes everything Arctic,” Tessum says. “There's no family in the world that has spent so much time on big expeditions across the Arctic. My dad spent something like 600 days on the Arctic Ocean alone, and two years traveling on the ice throughout the Arctic. My mum has done 10 North Pole expeditions. We've skied and hiked and paddled everywhere." 

"It's a great Arctic experience,” Richard adds. “You’ll get to see wildlife; you’ll get to travel around the area quite a lot. We do a lot of hiking, we sea kayak, we raft, we drive the ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) around, so you get to see a lot of the landscape, you get to see a lot of the animals, you get a comfortable experience staying in the lodge. It's a lot of fun.”

If you’re interested in this unique and interesting expedition, including the new Adventure Week departure, contact one of our experienced Polar Travel Advisers for more information.

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